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Geosciences LibreTexts

16.19: Apatite

  • Page ID
  • Apatite
    Chemical composition Ca5(PO4)3(F,Cl,OH)
    Crystal system Hexagonal
    Habit Prismatic
    Cleavage Imperfect, basal
    Fracture Conchoidal
    Hardness 5
    Optic nature Uniaxial -
    Refractive index 1.63-1.64
    Birefringence 0.003
    Dispersion Low, 0.013
    Specific gravity 3.2
    Lustre Vitreous
    Pleochroism Weak

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Faceted Apatite
    Photo courtesy of The Gem Trader


    Figure \(\PageIndex{2}\): Unusual Violet Faceted Apatite
    Photo courtesy of Jason Brim

    Apatite is named "the deceiver" as it's color, refractometer and specific gravity readings are similar to gemstones as tourmaline, topaz, andalusite and danburite.



    Apatite occurs in yellow, green, violet, purple, blue, brown, colorless and pink and can be transparent to translucent.

    Optic Character

    DR, Uniaxial negative


    Refractometer readings are in the range of tourmaline, topaz, andalusite and danburite but usually with a very low birefringence of 0.003.
    Full range: nω = 1.629 - 1.667 and nε = 1.624 - 1.666 with a full birefringence of 0.001-0.007.


    The spectroscope is a good diagnostic tool in separating apatite from gemstones as tourmaline and topaz.

    Blue apatite will, usually, show a rare earth spectrum line in the blue (praseodymium).
    Blue-green stones may have added spectrum lines in the yellow (didymium) and line(s) in the green (praseodymium).
    Yellow gems show the rare earth spectrum of greenish-blue without the line in the blue.
    Neon blue stones may show rare earth spectra in the yellow.

    UV Reactions

    • Blue: Blue to light blue (LW and SW)
    • Yellow: Purplish Pink (stronger in LW)
    • Green: Greenish-yellow (stronger in LW)
    • Violet: Greenish-yellow (LW); Light purple (SW)

    Chelsea Colour Filter

    Green-blue stones: green


    Apatite has weak pleochroism, so this tool may not be very useful except for blue stones where the dichroism is more profound (blue and pale yellow).


    A nice uniaxial negative interference figure should be found.

    Primary Sources

    Brazil, Burma, Mexico
    Violet and Purple are found in Maine and Afghanistan.


    Clouds of tiny white crystal inclusions may be easily observed.


    Figure \(\PageIndex{3}\): Blue apatite with crystalline "fireworks" of an unidentified mineral
    40X Magnification
    by Barbra Voltaire

    File:Apatite accicular.jpg

    Figure \(\PageIndex{4}\): Yellow apatite with a 3-dimensional network of liquid needles
    40X Magnification
    by Barbra Voltaire


    • Cat's-eyes